Tips and Challenges When Working From HomeNo traffic and long soul-crushing commute, no managers or co-workers hanging over your shoulder, working from home is wonderful! But it does have it's challenges.
Working Too Much
Some managers might worry that employees will slack off while working from home, but in reality the opposite may be true, with remote workers actually overworking. When your personal and work life all happens under the same roof, it can be hard to switch off.
How to avoid Overworking
- Set appointments in your calendar for the end of the day and when to take a break
- Be clear with your team when you are leaving
- Create physical boundaries between you and your workspace
How to get the important tasks done
- Eat the Frog - Do your hardest and most challenging tasks early and at the beginning of the day
- 1-3-5 Rule - Plan to do 1 really BIG thing, 3 Medium things and 5 small things every day
Create a comfortable, ergonomic, productive and inspiring work area
The first step is to establish a space for your work-from-home time. The space should be comfortable and enhance productivity and focus. As you would in the office, don’t forget the importance of ergonomics when you are working at home! Make sure you have a good ergonomic office chair for good posture throughout the day, the right amount of work surface to work comfortably and that your monitor is at eye level.
Many of us work off laptops when at home, but if you are settling in for a longer period of time to work from home, a laptop screen maybe too small and cause eye strain and poor posture.
Think about the following products that you might need to make your space ergonomic – Monitor, Monitor Riser, Footrest, Ergonomic Chair, Mouse pad, separate keyboard and mouse to your laptop, sit/stand desk…. Browse Workspace Direct for more ideas.
It might seem like a simple tip, but it’s a crucial one!
People love to work from home and stay in their PJ’s. This might work for some people but is it killing your productivity? To ‘dress for success’ does matter as well when you work from home.
You might not wear your usual work attire or wear your usual make up or spend quite so much time on your hair when working from home, but it is important to feel good and feel confident to do your best work. You also want to be ready for those online video meetings and chats!
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
If you don’t usually work from home, chances are there will be some bumps in the road. The key to steering through these bumps is communication.
Make sure you have a plan that lays out expectations for how often you should check in and keep in touch with your colleagues or manager. How will you convey any changes or new projects amongst your team?
Plan and schedule your online video meetings and catch ups. This plan is likely to change as you go and that’s ok, you will soon find what works best for everybody.
Step Away & Step Outside when you need to
With the usual hum and distractions of a physical office or work place, it might be too easy to become absorbed in your work when at home. Don’t forget to get up stretch those legs and get some fresh air every now and then.
Work out a few new routines and create some new good habits that suits your new work at home environment to keep you happy and productive.
Set an alarm for every hour or so, and take 2-5 minutes to stretch and walk around. Regularly stretching helps you maintain great posture. At a minimum, stretch throughout the day so you don’t get fatigued.
Keep Clearly Defined Working Hours
I know, hard to do for some workaholics! But just as you would designate and separate your physical workspace, you should be clear about when you’re working and when you’re not at home as well.
You’ll get your best work done and be most ready to transition back to the office if you stick with your regular hours.
Plus, if your role is collaborative, being on the same schedule as your co-workers makes everything much easier for your team.
If you are working from home over the COVID-19 period or setting up for the long term to work from home, visit us at www.workspacedirect.co.nz for all your Home Office Essentials.
Stay Safe, Stay Home and Be Kind!
Office Acoustics - An Essential Design Element for your Office Space
With the advent of open plan offices and open plan living, internal walls are disappearing off design plans. Hard surfaces such as concrete, wood and steel are in popular in modern interiors. This means that office acoustics are essential when considering your office design and layout.
How Sound Travels
If we want to improve the acoustics in an office, we need to understand how sound waves travel. Sound waves are energy transfers from cell to cell within almost any medium. Sound is vibration, therefore when a sound strikes a hard surface it’s reflected back. Whereas when sound energy passes over a fibrous acoustic material the energy is absorbed and converted to kinetic energy. The more fibrous a material, the better the absorption of sound. In addition, the hard, dense surfaces in the modern office often reflect sound and make it appear louder.
Business leaders realise the huge benefits that team collaboration has on productivity. However, a side effect of collaboration is the increased noise created. Colleagues who are trying to focus on work can be disrupted by nearby collaborative discussions. The two needs can be conflicting if taking place in an open place office space.
Good or bad acoustics have a significant impact on productivity, employee satisfaction, and health in your workspace.
The ways in which we work are more varied than ever before, but are you providing the right sound environment to ensure health, success and productivity?
Unwanted sound, or noise, is a major consideration in workplaces where employees function in close proximity, often with different expectations and needs regarding sound control in the work space.
The effects of poor acoustics in a work place can mean decreased productivity, errors, inefficient use of resources, and ultimately, worsened financial performance. From the perspective of the staff, uncontrolled noise can increase stress levels.
Noise is probably the most prevalent annoyance source in offices, and can lead to increased stress for workers
Why workplaces are becoming nosier?
A combination of factors has resulted in workplaces becoming noisier in the past decade including:
- Workplaces ‘opening up’ and encouraging greater mobility and communication between employees
- The focus on teams and groups collaborating in the workplace
- Workstation densities increasing and workstation areas decreasing
- Wireless technologies making it possible for employees to work in any location within the workplace
- Heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment (HVAC) becoming so quiet that it no longer provides enough white noise to adequately mask office conversation.
The importance of reducing noise in the workplace
It is so important that work space design actively reduces the impact of noise for staff. In Australia, an important contribution to receiving the highest Green Star accreditation (six stars) is to manage the sound (or noise) within a workspace – both internal and external sounds. From an employee perspective, if we can reduce noise we can increase acoustic comfort and promote positive employee and work effectiveness outcomes (such as reducing stress and increasing concentration).
Research demonstrates that workplaces should aim to provide ‘non-intrusive privacy’ to minimise conversational distractions and increase conversation privacy.
The design of office interiors has changed considerably. In the millennial age, private offices virtually disappeared and in their place open and collaborative spaces have been added. This new style of work environment is almost expected by graduating high school and university students because they were born during this shift and are conditioned to work in these spaces, but what about those who were not conditioned?
Most modern offices have spaces dedicated for collaborative work, with small huddle spaces dedicated for conferencing and more private work. These collaborative work areas, designed for group interaction and discussion, can often be a source of high levels of noise which can then travel to other parts of the work space and interrupt those doing more private work. Another issue to look at is if you have multi-generational office spaces, those accustom to higher partitions and quieter work spaces may not work as well in a more open spaces.
At workspacedirect we offer many acoustic solutions for various spaces in your business. There are endless possibilities for applying these acoustic products in your offices spaces.
Visually Acoustics product are now art pieces for your office that add more than acoustic benefits.
We encourage “energetic and lively” work places, in fact we love them! But sound control is major consideration when designing or modifying your offices.
- Tanya Hanrahan
Other Ways to say "I don't have time right now"The working day can be hectic. Monday to Friday, our days are full with scheduled meetings, unexpected meetings, projects to complete with deadlines, co-workers to help, phone calls to take, phone calls to return, emails to deal with, files to organize, and whatever other emergencies that come our way. By Tuesday, you can already see your best laid plans and workload tumbling. That’s usually when a co-worker or your boss walks to your desk with a “Do you have a minute?”
What comes to mind is…. “I don’t have time for this right now,” while true, those words can feel rude. Yet, you are overloaded and must navigate the request. Here are three ways to do just that.
“I’m having an eventful day/week. Can we return to this [set a specific time]?”
You are achieving three things, you are acknowledging your busy workload to yourself as much as your co-worker, you are scheduling a time frame to come back to their request and you are acknowledging their needs also.
Setting a specific and realistic time is important; don’t say “later.” Later is too vague and may be taken as a brush off.
Or if it is a less urgent request, how about “I can’t make it a priority right now, but I’ll definitely help when things calm down.”
This is saying you want to help, but you can’t commit to any time sensitive projects
From there your co-worker may seek someone else’s help, yet you have still shown your willingness to help when you are able.
“I’d be happy to help, but I’ll need a hand on [X] to fit it in my schedule.”
This is the trade-off approach. Not only will this help you, it is likely to make your co-worker feel better for asking as well.
Ensure the trade-off balances out. You don’t want to accept help for a half-hour project if it means helping your co-worker for three hours. You’ll be even busier than before!
Saying “I don’t have time for this right now” is tactless. It implies your time and workload are more important than your co-worker’s’. One quality these three approaches share is they show your desire to help but leave space for you to offer it when your schedule allows.
Planning and rescheduling for when you can focus on the task at hand, ensures your help is always at its best!
Setting up a Meeting Room – Ideas, Inspiration and Check Lists
Setting up a Meeting Room – Ideas, Inspiration and Check Lists
Whether you’re setting up a meeting room for the first time or you’re ready to take your meeting room to the next level, we wanted to share a few of our essential meeting room products and must haves. Plus new and inspirational ideas to create a space for those ahh- haa moments! We’ve included lots of handy links so you can click on our product list and browse our meeting room essentials!
First, let's start with a few meeting tips, so your precious time is productive, collaborative and everybody stay's on track!
- Decide if you really need the meeting
- Create a plan and structure to your meeting
- Establish your objectives and the key outcomes you want to achieve
- Publish and distribute the agenda points to your audience a couple of days before the meeting
- Set Up and arrange the meeting room so everybody is comfortable
- Check all of the equipment and technology is working and ready to go
- Start on time, keep on track, sum up and finish on time
- Encourage creativity!
- Expect the unexpected - Allow some time for general chit chat
- Publish and distribute summary and outcomes after the meeting
Office Supplies to have on hand
Meeting Room Furniture
Presentation Products to Write On
Mobile White Boards
Wall Mounted White Boards
Post-it BIG Notes
Meeting Room Technology and Equipment
Power , Data, and USB Charge Hubs
Built In Power Box
Correct cables and cords for visual, sound, power and data
Big screen Monitor
Video and Phone Conferencing Technology Equipment
Watch this fun video How conference call meetings usually work out
Keep them fresh
Mints, Lollies or Chocolate
Bowl of Stress Balls (stop those fidgety pen clickers!)
Watch this fun video Have you been to a meeting like this?
Agile, Adaptable and Flexible – The future of the office space
Last month I went to an open evening at my son’s new senior high school (Years 11 – 13) The classrooms have no doors! Open plan spaces and design is throughout the school with some smaller closed in spaces, with glass walls, for quieter high focus learning and teaching environments. Scattered throughout the school are many random collaborative social areas for students to meet and work together on projects and assignments, plus an impressive cafeteria that offers the students more opportunities to meet and gather. Big bold design features are throughout the school, offering inspiring surroundings to do their best work.
The schools large ‘learning common classrooms’ host three-four concurrent classes at any one point in time. The classes are mixed in both areas of learning and year levels so there is a lot of cross-pollination. The highly open and flexible nature of the school is designed to encourage new methods of learning, both individual and group based. With mobile panels, whiteboards and furniture, spaces of any size can be created to cater for smaller groups.
This is the environment that some of our now and future work force of NZ have only known. Closed in individual offices and cubicles with high partitions are foreign working spaces to this generation. For those of us who watch their children study and do assignments at home, the students of today are all on mobile devices and laptops with no fixed place to work. They happily complete assignments on the couch, the dining room table, or outside on the deck, this is where homework gets done nowadays. When needing a quieter space for more intense study they retreat to their bedrooms or a home office. So how will NZ businesses adapt to this new work force and how will we provide an agile and flexible work environment to inspire and support our future leaders to ensure our business are relevant, productive and profitable?
There are a growing number of businesses with more mobile teams whose workforces are less predictable than the 9-5 sit at your desk for 8 hours workers of the past. Some businesses might have some employees who work from home 50% of the time, others who travel 30% of the time, and contractors who are only around for short spurts. A 2012 study conducted by the Cisco Corporation confirms this, finding that 60% of today’s assigned offices and cubicles sit empty during a typical day. Given that the average office worker has 200 sq ft of workspace, there would appear to be a lot of room for an overhaul of office architecture.
Co-working space is on the horizon for professional services firms with creative sector clients and a millennial workforce. Co-working can be a catalyst for inspiring and supporting the kind of spontaneous interaction that generates and speeds innovation.
Open offices offer more efficient use of space that are adaptable. They offer the employee more opportunity to work from home or in teams as required. The private office is not likely to make a comeback and it is probably going the way of the phone booth. Researchers surveyed more than 40,000 office workers in 303 companies worldwide and found that the plus sides of an open-plan office (ideas sharing and camaraderie) are far outweighed by the downsides (distractions and noise pollution).
It’s true, the office environment speaks volumes about your organisation – it is the only real tangible evidence you have of your company culture in action and you can’t make a first impression twice. Google, Facebook, Sky, Pixar, LinkedIn, AirBnB….they have all created workplaces that are uniquely designed for who they are and what they do. They have realised how office space can be used as a strategic lever to improve productivity, performance and provide competitive advantage.
Whilst people do different jobs, they do similar activities and have similar needs from their office environment. People need to be able to communicate, to collaborate and have time and space to concentrate effectively in order to drive business growth forward.
A few years ago, the Norwegian telecom company Telenor decided to invest in a strange experiment. They got rid of hundreds of coffee machines, leaving just one for every 120 employees and expanded their cafeteria areas to accommodate more people. Surprisingly, despite the huge costs of the capital investment this experiment yielded a 20% increase in profits, a whopping $200 million.
Why? Because office design can have a huge impact on the efficiency and creativity of employees and the right layout can improve information flow and knowledge exchange within a company. By the simple act of limiting the number of coffee stations, they ensured people from different departments would mix, socialize and network. What followed was improved information flow within the company and spontaneous collaborations between various teams.
If your business is thinking about a new approach to your office space, relocating or undertaking a new build, below are a few points and spaces pulled together from the web to consider on your journey. To start the process, consider really important factors, such as your company values, organizational learning and employee wellbeing. We suggest that you spend one or two days simply observing your teams, talking to them and taking notes on what is important for them and the way they work. Studying your teams at work, you may notice that there are several pillars that define the way they work: collaboration, communication, openness to change, transparency, and predictability of the development process.
Office Spaces for Agile Working
The Touchdown area is where you go to work for short periods, 30 – 90 minutes. It’s an ideal environment for roving sales people who can touchdown to check emails, prepare before a meeting or have a brief catch up after the meeting. It is better than hot-desking as it allows people to work without being distracted and without distracting others. The rules are simple: No large, long or formal meetings should take place in this area and it can also co-exist as a short-term quiet area as required.
The breakout area is fast becoming part of the normal office landscape. As well as being a place to relax and recharge, it can also be used for informal meetings. This reduces the demand on meeting rooms. Feedback from clients suggest more informal conversations lead to fewer delays on decisions being made and improves productivity.
This is the area for your printer, photocopier, shredder, recycling and stationery. It’s useful in minimising disruption to open plan areas, maximises the efficiency of multi-functional devices (printer/photocopiers) and creates spontaneous communications between people who might not normally speak to each other within the course of their day-job. Its benefits are seven-fold – a specific area for stationery means it can be restocked easily, recycling increases and secure access printers has led to 50% less paper wastage for one company. Resources can also refer to personal storage centres – cloakrooms and lockers. Again this leads to more spontaneous conversations, and in some cases fewer trips and falls as coats and bags are stored away appropriately.
This is the area for working 2 hours or more where you are signalling that you are open to interaction and collaboration. People are encouraged to work out loud in this area where people can pop by and ask you what you’re working on. The rules are simple. Make a beautiful mess! but don’t have prolonged conversations at your desk as it can be distracting for others sitting nearby. Grab a coffee and head to the breakout area instead.
This is great for training, formal, confidential and large meetings. It reduces demand on desk space and provides an invisible DO NOT DISTURB sign above your head whilst you’re working. The rules are simple – use it or lose it! If you have a booking process for meeting rooms or quiet space and don’t use it within 15 minutes, then it’s free for anyone to use.
Enhance team mobility
Consider installing power and data hubs/terminals in your various spaces or workstation at every desk so it’s easy for your team to move around, changing seats and teams – they can just plug and work. Remember to invest in good monitor handle kits, so each individual can adjust the screen according to their specific needs.
Draw, write and scribble everywhere
Visualising ideas and concepts is one of the most useful tools for learning and forming concrete plans. Every wall in your office could be a blank canvas for your team to use if you cover it with transparent wipe-clean paint. Of course, whiteboards are equally effective. Consider buying a whiteboard on wheels for each team; these can easily be taken to a meeting room and then back to where the team is based. Glass walls can also serve as spaces for scribbles and sticky notes.
- Tanya Hanrahan
Vision Boards and Goals - Every day can be the time to set goals
Every new year brings the opportunity for a fresh start and
365 days equals 365 opportunities for you to create the life you really want.
We all tend to start the year with ambitious New Year's Resolutions in mind. But having big dreams is only the first step on your journey. It's just as important to put a plan in place and set little habits every day that will help get you there. The choices you make every single day have the power to drive change and make a really big impact. Be and create the energy you want to attract!
Dreaming is always the first step to doing. Creating a Vision Board could just be your guide to the year ahead.
Creating a space that displays what you want actually does bring it to life. What we focus on expands. When you create a vision board and place it in a space where you see it often, you essentially end up doing short visualization exercises throughout the day.
“Your brain will work to achieve the statements you give your subconscious mind. And when those statements are the affirmations and images of your goals, you are destined to achieve them!”
Visualization is one of the most powerful mind exercises you can do. The law of attraction is forming your entire life experience and it is doing that through your thoughts. Whether you believe that or not, we know that visualization works.
So, what’s the big secret to creating a vision board that works? It’s simple: Your vision board should focus on how you want to feel, not just
There is only one major rule to creating a vision board that works, and it’s that there aren’t any rules. You aren’t going to mess it up, you can create your vision board on your own terms. Here are the answers to the most common questions people ask:
Q: What should I put on my vision board?
A: Anything that inspires and motivates you. The purpose of your vision board is to bring everything on it to life. First, think about what your goals are in the following areas: relationships, career and finances, home, travel, personal growth (including spirituality, social life, education) and health.
You don’t have to cover each area exactly the same, just take a mental inventory of what you want each of those areas to look like and write them down. Always handwrite your goals instead of typing them, there’s something energetic about actually handwriting your goals. From your goals and aspirations, think about what you want on your vision board. Like I said before, what you focus on expands. You’ll be amazed at how things just start popping up all over the place once you set the intention for what you want and how you want to feel.
Q: Should I have one main vision
A: It’s totally up to you. What makes the most sense in your life? You could have one central vision board that you look at every day in your home office, and have a few small ones around the home or office space. Each area of our lives affect each other, so starting with one central vision board usually makes sense. Theme boards that
Q: How often should I re-do my vision board?
A: Whenever it feels right. You might want to leave blank space on your vision board so you can accept new things as they appear in my life, then add and rearrange during the year when you feel it. You’ll just know.
Once you’ve clarified your vision and made your vision board, your job is simply to look at it often, and trust that the Universe will provide you with the opportunities to manifest each and
Your vision board doesn’t need to be perfect and can certainly be a work in progress. Each person’s vision board will be unique and individual, so try not to compare to others or judge the outcome. Have fun, be open and willing, and see what happens! The Universe might just surprise you.
- Tanya Hanrahan